Montreal Gazette - October 20, 1980
Phillies lead 3-2 in Series
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (UPI) - Manny Trillo hit a run-scoring single to cap a two-run ninth inning that gave the Philadelphia Phillies a 4-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals in the fifth game of the World Series yesterday.
The Phillies, who lead the best-of-seven series three games to two, will have their ace left-hander, Steve Carlton, pitching tomorrow night when the Series resumes at Philadelphia in an effort to nail down the first championship in their history.
Right-hander Rich Gale will try to get the Royals even and set up a decisive seventh game Wednesday night.
Unser does it again as Phils close in on Series triumph
Phillies 4, Royals 3
By Ray Finocchiaro, Staff Correspondent
KANSAS CITY – Del Unser swears he is just happy to be here.
To paraphrase that ol' comic reliever George Jessel, when you once hit .196 for the Expos, you're happy to be anywhere.
This is October and Del Unser usually spends it fixing the house and playing racquetball and working for an emergency medical service. This World Series hero bit is pretty new.
Yes, Unser again.
He did it in Game Five of the playoffs against Houston with a game-tying pinch hit, he did it Game Two of the World Series with a run-scoring pinch hit, and he did It to the Royals again yesterday with a game-tying triple in the ninth triple.
Manny Trillo drove him in with a single off Dan Quisenberry's glove to give the Phillies a 4-3 victory and a three games to two lead (with Steve Carlton pitching in Philadelphia tomorrow) in what In the past three games has become a classic Fall Classic.
Unser knows all about them. He watched a bunch of television, as all good ex-Washington Senators do. The closest he ever had come to playing in one was in 1975 with New York, when the Mets were five games out of first in August. He played the next season there before being traded to the Expos, where he was a first baseman-outfielder and all around good guy for 2½ years – if you count 1978, when he didn't even hit Woodie Fryman's weight, .196, and had just two pinch-hits.
"I needed a change of scene," said Unser, who became a free agent after that season. "People were great to me in Montreal, but something was wrong. Maybe it was the chemistry of the club, maybe it was the cold, maybe it was how I was used. I just needed to leave."
Became a free agent
Unser became a free agent, so free almost nobody wanted him. Six teams drafted him, but nobody thought enough to sign him. Like all ex-Washington Senators, he figured he was through with baseball.
But the Phillies – who once traded him for Tug McGraw, the winner yesterday with three heart-thumping scoreless relief innings – invited him to training camp as a non-roster player.
"Maybe if we do something," general manager Paul Owens told him, "you can be our insurance policy."
After his hit against Houston, soberly – amid the clubhouse champagne carwash – Unser said, "Now I've paid my premium." "If I had gotten into a World Series before, maybe I would have felt the pressure most people do," said Unser, 35. "But I've learned to relax more. When your career looks like it's over, you tend to do that I just simplify things now.
"When you don't play much, it's all feast or famine. I can go 0-for-4, I mean 0-for-1, and if it doesn't kill me, then it's okay. I've accepted the reality of not playing every day. After 13 years of this, you get used to it.
Unser's hit was a Xerox of the ball in Houston, a one-hop rocket down the first base line. Willie Aikens, who had an awful day in the field, gave it a bullfighter's wave as the ball skipped into the right field corner.
Mike Schmidt scored on the play, but he shouldn't have even been on base. Royals' third baseman George Brett had been playing even with third base – guarding against a bunt – instead of deep on the plastic rug against the right-handed power hitter.
"No way am I bunting in that situation," Schmidt said. "As a leadoff hitter, I'm looking to drive the ball."
Keith Moreland sacrificed Unser to third, but Garry Maddox bounced to Brett and Unser was forced to hold.
Trillo then hit a line drive right at Quisenberry, which hit the tip of his glove and rolled away. Unser was home at last, amen.
But for the Phillies, whose six post-season victories have all been comebacks, there was the small matter of the bottom of the ninth and one Tug McGraw.
McGraw, who like Quisenberry had entered the game in the seventh, walked the leadoff hitter Frank White on five pitches. White may be the "Best Second Baseman Alive" the – New York Times headline said so; even the Phillies have to trust the newspaper of record – but even with three incredible fielding plays yesterday which saved at lest one run, he still ran his series hitting to two-for-21.
So all McGraw did for an encore is strike out George Brett, staring, on three pitches, the last one being a fastball down the chute as Brett waiting for the waste pitch that never came.
"(Catcher Bob) Boone arid I have been together for six years," McGraw said. "Makes for good karma, right?"
But Tug Terrific wasn't through with his mystifying stuff, so mystifying he walked Aikens on four pitches.
Hal McRae, nine-for-20 in the Series, then, hit a foul home run, McGraw beating his chest in anxiety instead of victory for a change. But he got McRae to hit into a force for the second out, and then walked Amos Otis, who had a sixth inning home run against starter Marty Bystrom, on four more pitches to load the bases. Jose Cardenal, an ex-Phillie (and an ex-everything else) was up.
"I looked at the scoreboard and saw Jose didn't have a hit in the series," said Schmidt, whose two-run home run against starter Larry Gura (one run scoring because of an Aikens' error) had given the Phillies an early lead.
Afraid of being haunted
"I was just praying that this wasn't going to be one of those fairy tale stories which started off, 'Jose Cardenal came back to haunt the Phillies with a two-run single in the bottom of the ninth.' Fortunately, that plot wasn't written."
For a team one game away from exorcising the demons of a history of Phillie Phizzles, there would be no haunting. McGraw struck him out on a 1-2 inside fastball, his fifth K, and the bases will stay loaded in Kansas City until next season.
Phillies have earned our total admiration
By Red Fisher
Now that this World Series appears to be over, what more is there to be said about the high and soaring emotions that have been inflicted upon us during the past week?
Is there time or room to feel sorry for someone like the brilliant. Frank White, whose work at second base yesterday should have been enough to provide the Kansas City Royals with the series edge they desperately needed going back into Philadelphia?
A tear, perhaps, for George Brett, who went down looking in the ninth inning with White on first base.
A torrent for Jose Cardenal, who went down swinging with the bases loaded?
There is neither time nor room for sympathy where these professionals are concerned. Only admiration for the winning Phillies, who have come back so far for so long and are properly poised on the lip of winning it all.
Measure of insanity
People often ask, for good reason, what measure of insanity would prompt owners ' of professional teams to pay as much as a million dollars a season to mere mortals playing a little boys' game. While so many scuffle with galloping inflation, a few are paid fortunes to strike or throw or catch a baseball. Senseless, that's what it is.
The Phillies, I suspect, have provided the answer going back to the time they erased a six-game deficit with only three weeks remaining in the National League East. They carried it through the series against the Expos, the Astros, and now against the Royals, who knowledgeable baseball people insisted had a lock on the series in every area – except heart.
Even if these Phillies don't go on to win one of the two remaining (if necessary) games in the Series, anyone who is not full of admiration for them has a heart of steel.
The manner in which they came back to defeat the Astros in the National League championship series surely represents one of the great comebacks in baseball lore. The way they have refused to quit against the Royals, including yesterday's game when they overcame a 3-2 deficit in the ninth, and then held off the Royals with the bases loaded in the bottom of the inning, ranks with anything the game has produced. Del Unser with another big hit... Tug McGraw... incredible stuff.
True, it's only a baseball game. It's difficult to equate, something like this with whatever it is that's happening around us from day to day. It seems to me, though, there's a lesson of manly courage to be learned there for each of us.
• • •
A few thoughts:
Anyone who watched Saturday's game involving the Royals and Phillies must have cringed when Philadelphia pitcher Dick Noles threw at Brett's head – missing him by an eyelash.
The pitch, predictably, brought Kansas City manager Jim Frey storming out of the dugout. He appeared prepared to attack pitcher Noles which, of course, would have been a mistake.
Throwing at a batter is a nasty, foul part of the game which should have been outlawed a long time ago. But as long as it's condoned by somebody up there... as long as only warnings are issued the first time a pitcher throws at a batter, as Noles did, it's an accepted part of the game.
Noles, you'll recall, struck out Brett and the next two batters after his high, inside pitch.
• • •
Mario Tremblay yesterday was asked by radio interviewer Bob Dunn how many goals per season would satisfy him.
"Twenty to 25," replied Tremblay.
Mario is dead wrong. He has now reached that point in his development (seventh season) where he shouldn't be satisfied with anything less than 35 goals. If he were used regularly on the power play, he has the talent to score 40, particularly if he exerts self-discipline and controls his temper.
• • •
In the days before the start of the regular season, Rick Chartraw was mentioning that he's more comfortable now with Canadiens than ever before.
"I came into camp with the idea that this is where I want to play, nowhere else."
Now, it seems that Chartraw has attracted the displeasure of management because he's four or five pounds overweight. For that reason, it's assumed, he wasn't dressed against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night, and didn't make the trip to Philadelphia last night.
This is Chartraw's sixth full season with Canadiens. His status has been open to question each year for one reason or another, including weight problems, yet the bottom line is that the team has won four Stanley Cups during that time. Presumably, Chartraw contributed to those championship years. If he didn't, why hasn't he been traded long before this?
In other words, if Chartraw's attitude is such that he's not in shape to play with this team after five full seasons, management has only itself to blame.
Aikens becomes first Series hero
Royals 5, Phillies 3 (Saturday)
By Michael Farber of The Gazette
KANSAS CITY – The team was Johnny's-Leone's. Johnny's was a used car lot; Johnny a double amputee. Leone's was a Mom-and-Pop Italian joint with a saloon in the back.
Johnny's-Leone's played at Swann Park, an open field hard by the Patapsco River in the middle of an industrial wasteland – classic South Baltimore, where what you see is what you breathe.
Al Kaline once played for Johnny's-Leone's and so did Phil Linz and a dozen other major leaguers. None of them black. Reggie Jackson, finishing a year at Arizona State, was taking batting practice, trying to be the first.
One ball landed in the Patapsco, then another. Walter Youse – the manager, a scout for the Orioles and later the California Angels – was touched.
"He" Youse said, "looks whiter all the time."
Ten years later Youse would tell an overweight black kid from South Carolina that he would never make the major leagues as a catcher, that he should try first base.
"If not for Walter Youse," the kid was saying, "I probably wouldn't be here."
The kid, Willie Mays Aikens – no longer fat, no longer a catcher – will never have a candy bar named after him. Says he doesn't eat junk food anymore, and to Willie Mays Aikens Crunchy Granola just doesn't make it.
All he and Reggie have in common – except Walter Youse – is a month: October.
Amid the cries of Phillie character-building and the hemorrhoids and the pussy-footing near home plate, only Willie Aikens has become a World Series hero of Jacksonian proportions.
Two balls flew out of Royals Stadium Saturday as Kansas City was defeating Philadelphia, 5-3, in Game 4 of the World Series, and Aikens stood transfixed at home plate, watching his handiwork. Reggie Jackson had done it that way, dropping his bat with a I-could-have-done-it-with-my-bare-hands disdain, following the trajectory of his three home runs in the final game of the 77 Series. (Ellis Valentine tried it a year later, ended up with a double and was picked off second base but that's an old story).
One less than record
The handiwork was Aikens third and fourth of the Series – one less than the record held by, of course, Reggie Jackson. Philadelphia manager Dallas Green admitted that whatever book his pitchers had on Aikens might as well be exchanged for Lolita or Catch-22 or something because this one isn't doing them very much good.
"Anyway, I consider myself a pretty good hitter," Aikens said.
How good? In five World Series games, he has four home runs and eight runs-batted-in.
Willie Mays – for whom the delivering doctor bequeathed Aikens his middle name – had no home runs and five RBIs in 17 World Series games.
Perhaps Willie Mays should change his name to Willie Aikens Mays.
(Aikens' actual nickname is Mick, although there is no proof his name is Willie Mays Mickey Mantle Aikens).
Already in Seneca, S. C. – a mill and farm town of 12,000 – they have Willie Aikens T-shirts and Willie Aikens bumper stickers. (The World Series is always good for business). His mother – Lucille Webb, who works as a maid at a nearby university – told him so after arriving in Kansas City late Friday night. She saw her son play for the first time on Saturday.
If all this, seems improbable, re member the World Series is at least as good for improbability as it is for business.
Willie Mays Aikens talked about all this with a slight stutter. If that doesn't seem heroic, consider that he used to stutter a lot.
His thoughts just never used to, leave his brain and reach his mouth without taking a detour, embarrassing him to the point where he shut himself off from all but his immediate world.
"When I was young, stuttering, made me feel so bad because I couldn't accept I was a stutterer," Aikens was saying. "In restaurants or stores, I wouldn't order anything because I felt funny doing it myself. I was afraid to talk to a girl, ask her for a date.
"But I learned to cope with it. And if someone sees a stutterer and can't accept it, that's their problem. I decided I would take classes to stop after my first good season in the minor leagues. I couldn't be the type of person who tells a reporter he's got nothing to say."
And so he spoke. "I got a little bit of Reggie in me," Aikens said. He spoke about being traded by California last season ("when they spend $800,000 a year to get Rod Carew, a seven-time American League batting champion, there's a message somewhere"); spoke about his early season boos from Royals fans ("those standing ovations I get now touch me to my heart"); spoke about Walter Youse and Reggie Jackson and playing defensive end in college and weighing 258 pounds.
Okay, so maybe Willie Aikens doesn't talk as good a game as Reggie. Who does? But, as Shakespeare or the Phillie scouts or somebody wrote in a book, the play's the thing.
Royals may have overworked Quisenberry
By Ray Finocchiaro, Staff Correspondent
KANSAS CITY (Gazette) – Well, Dan Quisenberry can only pitch in two more World Series games.
The Kansas City Royals continued to be under-handed in this World Series business, using their one and virtually only relief pitcher for the fifth time in five Series (and seventh time ; in eight post-season) games.
After giving Philadelphia its two runs in the ninth inning of the Phillies' 4-3 victory, Qulsenberry's Series record slipped to 1-2 (plus one save), his earned run average to 5.79 in 9⅓ innings.
How much can you take of a mediocre thing?
"I can pitch," said the submariner, "as much as I have to."
Royals' manager Jim Frey went to Quisenberry with one out in the seventh after Keith Moreland singled – just the fourth hit off starter Larry Gura – because he felt Quisenberry could better control the game.
For two innings, he was right. Dr. Q got ground balls from the first seven batters in the eighth.
But the Phillies broke through for the winning runs in the ninth, prompting Pete Rose (an awful three-for-19) to question Frey's frequent use of Quisenberry.
"I think he's bringing him in too early," said Rose. Indeed, in Game 2, Dr. Q retired the side on ground balls in the seventh but was cuffed in the eighth. "He's not a three-inning pitcher."
• • •
The Royals squandered numerous opportunities, leaving 13 runners on base to bring their five-game total to 45, an average of nine per game. George Brett was the guiltiest party, leaving two on in the third (the Royals had the first two batters on base but didn't advance them), one in the fifth and one in the ninth.
• • •
Philadelphia second baseman Manny Trillo, who had the game winning hit, also made a game-saving play with a relay throw to the plate to catch Darrell Porter (who snapped an 0-for-10 with two hits) trying to score on a sixth inning double by Willie Wilson.
At least Porter slid this time, but Trlllo's relay had him beat by two strides and Boone tagged him well.
• • •
Amos Otis hit his third home run of the Series and is now two hits away (he's ll-of-20) from breaking the record for Series hits held by Bobby Richardson and Lou Brock. Otis, Hal McRie and Larry Bowa are the only players to have hit safely in all five games.
• • •
All six of the Phillies' post-season wins have been by one run (three times) or two runs. In the four they've lost, two were by one run, one by two runs and one by three in extra innings.